Guardi's Venice Lagoon bought for Ashmolean

An enchanting early masterpiece by Francesco Guardi has been acquired by the Ashmolean in Oxford with help from the Art Fund.

Guardi's paintings of Venice were especially popular with British visitors to Italy and this view of the Fondamenta Nuove was made for a Grand Tourist in around 1758, a time when the artist was first establishing his reputation in the market.

Venice: the Fondamenta Nuove with the Lagoon and the Island of San Michele is part of a group of his early pictures that are entirely original and not based on compositions by other artists. Rather than paint familiar scenes of the city's architecture and festivities, Guardi captures Venice as though rising from the water.

The painting, which has never hung before in a public gallery, has been acquired by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford through the Government's Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance scheme, together with a grant from the Art Fund.

Born into a family of painters, Guardi's artistic range included altar-pieces, devotional works and genre subjects, but he is best known for his views of his home city, which were his main activity by around 1760.

Inspired by artists such as Marco Ricci, Michele Marieschi, Giambattista Tiepolo and Canaletto – whose compositions he often used as a starting-point for more impressionistic pieces –  Guardi was praised for his 'magical effects' in paint.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: 'The Art Fund has been helping the Ashmolean to add outstanding works of art to its collections for nearly 100 years. We're thrilled that the Museum has now raised the funds to acquire this beautiful and important Guardi.'

Venue details

Ashmolean Museum Beaumont Street Oxfordshire OX1 2PH 01865 278000 www.ashmolean.org

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